Imposter Syndrome: What is it and How to Get Rid of it
I have been an entrepreneur for over 3 years now and a large part of my business is coaching other entrepreneurs. One of the biggest entrepreneurial struggles that I have encountered is Imposter Syndrome. I can certainly relate because I have experienced it as well.
Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
I know from first hand experience that many entrepreneurs feel like others around them have it all together while they themselves are "making it up on the fly". They believe that sooner or later, the rest of the world is going to figure out that they aren't qualified to be an innovator or business owner, and at that point everything will come crashing down around them. This feeling is reinforced by the feedback that many entrepreneurs are given:
We are often regarded as an expert in our field while we are actually scrambling to learn more about our field behind the scenes. We are being celebrated as bold and brave, while experiencing near-constant fear and worry. We’re presenting only the best version of ourselves and our company in order to impress prospective customers, investors, and employees. The sheer effort of trying to keep our game face on 24-7 can be exhausting. Understanding this behaviour is an important step in letting go. By recognizing the self doubt and lies we tell ourselves, we can benefit from increased perspective, clarity, and confidence.
The good news is that if you feel this way, you are normal. When you feel like a fraud it’s more often in relation to some self conceived perfection that never actually existed. Letting go of some of your excess self-importance will go a long way in helping you feel less like a fake.
The biggest contributor to feeling like a fraud is being unable to internalize your successes. You convince yourself that you were given an opportunity that others weren’t and so, nothing you achieve after that opportunity was actually deserved. It has taken me a long time to get past this flawed way of thinking but I can accept now that I have played a major role in my successes. You can too.
I have also learned that when I feel like a fraud, the fastest way I can get over this feeling is to genuinely try to help someone else. Every time someone writes a testimonial that I solved a problem for them, it makes me feel like I am the real deal. When I need to bolster my self confidence, I look back at my client testimonials to prove I am competent and talented.
When you compare yourself to others it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking your accomplishments pale in comparison to others. It may not work for everyone but I have found that it can help to take a temporary break from social media. During these breaks, I have found that I can better reflect on my own experience and success without measuring it against someone else. When my self confidences stores are replenished, I hit the social media on switch and off I go again.
For any entrepreneur or leader reading my blog, start believing you are not an imposter and that you have the ability to offer the world something that nobody else can. If you need to be convinced of your skills and talent, we are here to help.